Many of you are asking these questions . . .
Should I homeschool? How do I get started homeschooling?
And most importantly: How to choose homeschool curriculum?
It can be overwhelming, whether you’ve thought about homeschooling for years or if you’ve been thrust into homeschooling by no choice of your own.
We started homeschooling when Ashley was in fifth grade and Gentry was in third grade. It was not my first choice, but for reasons at their private school, we brought them home. Over time, I fell in love with homeschooling.
Even though I have a Masters in Curriculum & Instruction, I had to re-think how I would homeschool. You see, homeschooling is not school at home.
OK…if you’re trying to make it through this pandemic, it might be school at home. Either way, I’d like to give you 3 steps on how to choose homeschool curriculum that might challenge your view of homeschooling.
Step 1: Consider Your Family in Choosing Curriculum
First, consider yourself . . . the one who will do the homeschooling.
- Will you work and homeschool?
- Are you clean & tidy person, everything must always be in its place?
- Are you a free-flowing mom who doesn’t mind projects and messes around the house?
- Are you wanting to use real books, not textbooks, to teach?
- Do you have physical limitations or medical concerns?
There are many questions you should consider to see how YOU will fit into homeschooling. That’s the first place to start. Your personality and way of life will determine what type of curriculum you choose.
Second, consider your kids.
- What ages are they?
- What learning styles do they have?
- Do they learn visually, auditorily, kinesthetically (hands-on)?
- Do they struggle with a specific subject area?
- Do they tend towards ADHD?
- How do they learn best?
Notice, I didn’t ask how you “teach best”. As a homeschool mom, it’s important to teach to your kids strengths and weaknesses.
Finally, consider your family situation.
- Are you a stay at home mom, with more flexibility?
- Are you working outside the home?
- Are you working from home?
- Do you have help during the week?
- Are you in a house or an apartment?
- Do you have space to create a school room?
- Where in your home will you homeschool?
Each of these areas are important to consider as you look at how to choose homeschool curriculum. Your family is different from your best friend’s family or your sister’s family.
I talked to a young mom last week with kids between the ages of four and eleven. They live out of town on 25 acres. Their homeschool will look different from the family who lives downtown in a high rise.
If you would like a print-out of these questions to help you consider how to choose homeschool curriculum, enter your name & email below.
Step 2: Consider Your Approaches to Homeschool
Let’s break this down into two areas: what way will you deliver homeschooling and what style will you use to homeschool.
Ways to Homeschool
Homeschooling comes in many shapes and sizes. That’s why it is so perfect for so many families. You can customize it to your family’s desires and needs. What ways might you homeschool?
- Traditional Textbooks
- Real books
- Online classes
- Online curriculum
- Videos & Lesson Plans
- Unit Studies
Looking at your family, which method of delivery would work best for your kids? Realize that each family must look at their kids, situation and mom (or whomever will do the homeschooling) to decide.
From my personal experience of homeschooling for 10 years, I will offer one bit of advice. I do not recommend having your kids work online all day long. It creates a bad habit of dependency on the computer for everything. If you need to use online methods, I recommend a blend of online & offline delivery.
In our family, we used DVD classes for Math and Writing until high school. In high school, we used two DVD lectures a week for Humanities (History, Reading, Writing, Fine Arts, Religion, Philosophy) and a supplemental DVD to help with Math.
Methods or Approaches to Homeschool
I’ll give you a quick overview of 7 different approaches to homeschooling. I’ve used all of them at one time or another. Again, look at your family to decide which approach fits “your family best”.
Families may choose this method because it is most familiar to them. It’s probably what you grew up on. Textbooks are good for teaching a body of information. Textbooks assume you are teaching to an average child and provide corresponding lesson plans for each subject area.
Classical education follows a child’s normal learning development, using repetition and memory in the younger years. In the older years, children grow in logic and thinking skills as they study each subject area. Real books and classics are used throughout.
Classical education has been around for centuries, since the Greeks & Romans. Dorothy Sayers revived this approach to education during World War 2 in inner city Chicago. Discover more about classical education with the Classical Education Tool Kit.
Charlotte Mason Homeschooling
Charlotte Mason taught in Germany in the 1800’s and was appalled with the schools at that time. Kids were treated like containers to fill with pre-digested information. Artificial learning experiences were created to show learning was taking place.
Ms. Mason started her own approach to education that includes real books, real life learning, respect for children as people, instilling habits and other similar activities. Many homeschoolers follow Ms. Mason approach when they want something better and more real than textbooks and public school. The Charlotte Mason Tool Kit is available for families interested in this approach.
In a nutshell, unit studies offer a family the opportunity to study a topic or theme in all the subject areas. Some families use unit studies every so often to encourage a love of learning. Many prepared unit studies are available, but some moms prefer to create their own. Our Unit Study Tool Kit was our first tool kit in our approaches series.
Biblical Principle Homeschooling
This approach uses the Bible as a filter for all learning, in all subjects studied. It’s goal is to raise kids with a Biblical worldview to be self-learning and self-governed individuals.
Delight-Directed – Un-schooling
Following this approach, you center your homeschool on what your kids enjoy. These homeschools have many resources, such as books, arts & crafts supplies, building supplies, science materials and more. Families who follow this approach use the resources and child’s choice to educate their kids.
Leadership Education Homeschooling (includes eclectic)
With leadership education, families use all the approaches above at different times during their kids’ education, which makes it eclectic. What makes this approach different is homeschooling with intention.
Families believe it is important to raise their children to lead others, to influence those around them, to think for themselves and to make wise decisions. More about leadership education can be found here.
If you would like information about all of these approaches to homeschooling, I recommend Approaches to Christian Homeschooling.
Yes, it is from a Christian perspective, but even those who don’t follow this faith will learn the details of each approach, as well as how to choose which one is best for their family.
Step 3: Consider Your Subject Areas
When thinking how to choose homeschool curriculum, you need to what type of curriculum to buy.
For starters, there is the option of buying all-in-one box curriculum. This means you’ll buy a third grade box for your third grader or a sixth grade box for your sixth grader. These type curricula can come from different approaches. In other words, there are all-in-one boxes for Traditional, Charlotte Mason Classical homeschooling and others.
Other families buy each subject area separately because they see that specific publishers specialize in a their particular subject. In other words, they buy Math from one publisher, Writing from another publisher and History from still another publisher.
Most families starting out, do not attempt to create their own curriculum, but that is also an option. Here’s a video to help you make wise decisions.
Subject areas will differ according to your child’s age. Young children are learning to write letters and words, while older kids are writing research papers. It’s all writing, but different type curricula. Which subject areas should you consider?
- Language Arts (Reading – individually & aloud as a group, Writing, Grammar, Spelling)
- History (some choose Social Studies)
- Electives (Typing, Art, Music, Speech, Computers, Health, Life Skills, Critical Thinking, etc)
What subjects are most imperative to do everyday?
My personal opinion is to do Language Arts & Math everyday. If you’re having a bad day and can’t get it all done (we all have those days), stick with your core subject areas. Here’s how I group the subjects by importance:
- Most important: Language Arts & Math
- Next important: History & Science
- Final important: Electives
For the most part, we did Language Arts, Math and History everyday in elementary ages. Science was about three days a week. Electives were done according to the elective chosen.
In junior and senior high ages, we added Science to our daily lessons. However, if life was falling apart and kids had bad attitudes (no, never in our home… LOL), we focused on what was most important to complete that day.
I have a printable for you that will give you a list of questions to ask yourself on how to choose homeschool curriculum. You can get it right here.
Other blog posts on getting started:
How to Start Homeschooling Right Each Year